Strength and vulnerability

by Didier Marlier on Friday April 5th, 2013

Dear friends and readers, the blog is back after a technical interruption…??? That sounds cheap and fake.

What about: Dear friends and readers, I am sorry for this interruption due to an unexpected surge of work??? Everybody knows that the looming crisis is also hitting consultancies and we would be the only ones overloaded and no work has ever prevented me from writing on this blog anyway? And my partners would know I lie and may lose respect.

And what about saying nothing and restarting the blog “as if nothing had happened?” Well that may raise more questions than necessary.

So why not going for the real story? We preach authenticity and leadership by example so…

It seems to me that it has lasted for long, much longer than those four months of absence. I was fortunate enough to have many of you, dear clients, around, as well as my extremely solid partners who raised up to the challenge and maintained the course as well as the quality and integrity of our brand.

In November, I unexpectedly lost my mother with whom I had been very close when I was younger. I had landed for work in Rio de Janeiro when I learned she had passed away. And in January, I sadly decided to put an end to my 17 years old marriage… I managed to navigate without completely breaking down but I needed time for myself, I needed silence, I needed to reconnect with a somewhat profounder self. I am not completely back. The feeling of guilt is enormous when one breaks his promise of wedding and the consequences will be felt for long, probably as long as one’s ex-partner doesn’t find a new companion taking her on a new and sunnier journey as she more than deserves.

Fortunately, the demanding work we are involved in, as well as maintaining what can be maintained from the family’s relative well-being, have been a strong antidote and did not allow much space for prolonged sadness, depression or soul searching. The “Show must go on” and we all know, in our job, that we are just as good as our last appearance. Our clients, rightly so, expect us to be at our best. So thank you all for having maintained your high level of expectation, it certainly has greatly contributed to keep me on my toes and standing.

Which one of the stories would you have prefered to hear from me? Which one was most credible and authentic? In which one did I “lower my guard” and respect you/trusted you most? Some of you may have felt a bit uncomfortable reading the last (and true) version, depending on your national culture or psychological preference and I apologize for it. I have been thouroughly unimpressed by the French football coach Domenech or the Brazilian P.S.G. manager, Leonardo, taking us all hostages and asking their loved ones for their hand in public. I am not sure however, that your respect for me would have tremendously improved by reading any of the other versions as you would have known I wasn’t honest with you…

That is the point I wanted to make in retaking this blog after four months of absence. It takes courage to show one’s vulnerability but it reinforces the relationship with those who receive it as a token of one’s trust and respect. I will never forget the best Professor I had when taking my M.B.A. at IMD, back in 1988. Marcel was teaching Communication. He opened his class by explaining: “Gogogogoood Mo-morning, I… I… am Marcel D. and I will bebebe your c-c-c-coo-communication pro-professor”. The class burst out laughing, believing he was joking But Marcel truly suffered from stuttering, in particular when he was nervous, which was the case, in front of a new audience of ready-to-kill MBAs. He continued though: “Bbut once IIII have admitted it, I feel better, my anxiety lowers and it-it goes better”… The laughing stopped immediately and I remember him as the best professor we have had…

It takes strength to be vulnerable and… I do not regret to be vulnerable with an audience such as you all…

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12 Responses to “Strength and vulnerability”

  1. 🙂

  2. Caro Didier
    Sinto ouvir sobre sua perda e dificuldades. Agradeço o seu compartilhar. E, sim, com a vulnerabilidade vem a força real. Brene Brown coloca isso de uma forma muito poderosa em seus livros e em aps no TED. E a vida continua, assim como a sua construção. Abraço, André Lit

  3. Meu caro Didier, my respect for you has deepened even further now that you have shared your story the way you did. A divorce is truly bad news and I recall that the effects of my divorce in 1987 (emotionally I mean, not only the € ones) lasted for a prolonged period of time. I came out a better man, as did my ex-wife. I wish you all energy and the very best !
    Até breve, Um forte abraço, Paul

  4. Cher ami, merci de partager avec nous. You have exemplified that to be vulnerable takes tremendous courage. How much easier it is to merely pretend that everything is fine, that it’s business as usual. There is no risk in that. But sharing the truth about a challenging time in one’s personal life shows true courage. My respect for you, which you know was very high to begin with, is now even higher. Abracos amigo. Pierre

  5. Dear Didier,
    I am very sorry to read about your recent sad life experiences.
    I admire your courage for sharing, although I am not surprised as I had the previlege to benefit of your openness, among many other great values, in the past.
    Courage to get through this difficult period!
    With great respect and esteem!

  6. I’ve missed your writings.
    I hope you the best.

  7. Caro Didier,
    Até que enfim você volta! E pela história vivida e contada, o mergulho foi profundo e sofrido. No entanto, a forma como você volta mostra que sua integridade está intacta e eu o saúdo por isso. Seja benvindo, caro amigo! Esse seu retorno era mais do que necessário e esperado.
    Um forte e fraternal abraço, Francisco.

  8. Freddy is dead – you are not – Glad to know you are back – Naked truth should never be ashamed.

  9. Dear Didier,
    You can be sure that your choice to show the vulnerability of the moment creates stronger bonds between human beings. In the end, before being CEOs, Consultants, Directors, that is what we all are,,, Thanks a lot to give us a concrete example of what real leaders must show.

  10. Didier,

    Admiro seu gesto e sua coragem , em um mundo tão cheio de hipocrisias , desculpas politicamente corretas, argumentos superficiais , palavras vazias, etc etc.
    Parabéns pela transparência!
    Estava sentindo falta dos textos . Que bom que você e seus parceiros voltaram ! Força para enfrentar as perdas. Abraço, Julieta.

  11. Dear Didier,

    after all we are humans and sometimes “life happens while we are busy making other plans”. But I am sure your energy and inner strength will push you forward; you already showed that by taking the courage to reveal your vulnerability. I wish you all the best and lots of enery for the next time to come – René

  12. Dear Didier, I am very sorry to hear you had a difficult time. your honesty, openness and authenticity are – actually – not a surprise. they are your strenghts and they are what makes you a trusted advisor. Ron.


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